NEW YORK/Rubavu District, 25 June 2010 - More than 3000 young people and their families in rural Rwanda watched the opening game of the World Cup. Since then, an average of 2,000 people have returned every night to watch the matches, thanks to a project by UNICEF and partners to broadcast the World Cup matches in Rubavu District. Not only are the matchups electrifying for the children, many of whom have never seen a major sporting event before, but they are also creating a strong sense of community among the audience.
"World Cup in My Village is great for our community." says 12-year old Sandra, "The whole village is watching the games together. It is an opportunity to watch football games which otherwise some people would not be able to see, but even the rich people are coming to watch too, because the big screen are much better than their smaller televisions. "
Hundreds of children arrive long before the games are shown to enjoy performances of young local artists and to kick around home-made soccer balls. They also watch raptly the set up of the large inflatable screens every night, with some young people asking for lessons in the assembly techniques.
The first match of the day is always pre-recorded as the projectors only work in the dark. Young children come early with their older brothers and sisters. After the first game, mothers begin to arrive to bring their youngest children home. During the half-hour break between games, short films and audio clips produced by young people on education and youth participation are shown. The live evening game draws a large crowd of teenagers and their families.
Closer to the start of the game, crowds stream into Gisenyi Umaganda Stadium, where the television sets have been placed. Children huddle together on the grass for warmth when the sun sets. The sound of the ever-present vuvuzelas (plastic trumpets) mixes with comments on speakers and the buzz of the excitement of the crowds. The cheers become louder in response to great footwork or energetic and snappy team play, but they are loudest when an African team scores a goal.
Teaching skills in a hands-on way is the goal of the video and audio workshops offered by UNICEF, the Children’s Radio Foundation and local partners throughout the screenings. While the video workshops focused on a younger audience, many teenagers participating in the audio workshops are no longer able to pursue their education. In the workshops they gain new skills and confidence, and many have expressed a hope to work as community journalists in the future.
For many young people in the audience, football is not only a joy but a source of inspiration. They dream of playing on the world stage themselves one day, and the screenings have become an important part of their lives and their hopes. The World Cup in my Village project shows the benefits of providing innovative solutions to bring the most excluded children and young people into the global community.
Access to information, education and life skills are the key to better living conditions for young people in isolated communities and innovative technology is proving to be a highly effective tool to deliver access to them. The 1 Goal education campaign calls for education for all children – an aim that will only be met if new ways of engagement continue to be explored. Millions of young people living in rural areas worldwide can benefit from access to information delivered by scaling up innovative technologies
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
Video footage and high resolution images will be available free of charge at
Audio footage will be available free of charge at
Stories about the screenings written by youth will be available on
For further information or to arrange for an interview with staff on the ground or youth spokespersons from the region please contact:
Misbah Sheikh, UNICEF Rwanda,
Tel +250 788 300 731,
Patrick Slavin, UNICEF Zambia
Tel + 260 977 770 616,
Janine Kandel, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7684,
Shantha Bloemen, UNICEF Johannesburg,
Tel +27 11 517 1617,
Michal Rahfaldt, Children’s Radio Foundation,
Tel +27 72 341 2880,